National Park Services Wants You To ‘Plan Like a Park Ranger’
The National Park Service has become known for finding highly amusing and funny ways to both teach and entertain. They recently pinned an interesting infographic to their official Facebook page which urges park patrons to "Plan Like a Park Ranger".
Along with the infographic, they also posted a caption which read:
Have a plan...and a backup plan…Check ✔️
Pack your patience…Working on it. ✔️
Don’t pet the fluffy cows…✔️
Summer is here and a little trip planning can ensure that your only surprises when visiting a park are happy ones. To help everyone have a great experience, National Park Service rangers have shared their top 10 insider tips to #PlanLikeAParkRanger.
In case you were having trouble reading all 10 ways to plan like a park ranger, they are as follows:
1. Have a plan...and a backup plan
For us, a park visit begins at home with a trip to NPS.gov. Park websites have ideas about where to go, what to see, and what to do, and most important, what we need to include in our planning. Flexibility and a backup plan are key, too, in case of changing weather conditions, road closures, etc.
2. Pack Your Patience
We always remember to allow ourselves extra time to get from one place to another and enjoy the experience. This season, national parks are already bustling. Like lots of places you go this year, we may not yet be able to offer the past level of service as we emerge from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And keep in mind that people who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks inside park buildings and in crowded outdoor areas.
3. Travel off the beaten path
There are more than 400 national parks across the country. We love exploring the lesser-known ones. They can be a great option for travelers looking for all the beauty of nature, hiking trails, and rich history, with fewer crowds and lines.
4. Reservations may be needed
We love reservations. Many campgrounds and lodges in and around well-known parks are already fully booked. Having a reservation guarantees you won’t arrive at a park only to find that you need an entrance reservation, there’s no place to sleep, or a popular trail is closed.
5. Ask a ranger
Have a question? Ask a ranger. (Yep, we ask other rangers about visiting their parks.) We’re always here to help. We can answer questions, share park stories (we’re always happy to point you to the nearest restroom), and we can let you know what activities are available.
6. Explore the new NPS app
We nerded out over our own app—it’s very cool. You can even access it offline if you plan ahead! The new NPS App offers tools to explore more than 400 national parks...interactive maps, tours, accessibility information, and more. And we’re adding new content every day!
7. Keep safety in the picture
We love to take photos. (Have you seen our Instagram?) But we like surviving the process, too—so we’re careful to take them where it is safe. Some popular trails and views may be especially crowded this year, so an unobstructed photo might require a bit of a wait.
8. Don’t pet the fluffy cows
JK, but bison can weigh up to 2,000 lbs and run up to 35 mph—and they can really hurt you. We can’t run that fast and are pretty sure you can’t either. Keep your distance from wild animals, never feed the wildlife, and when taking pictures, use your zoom and give them room. #SafeSelfie
9. Leave only footprints
We know that each of us—rangers, volunteers, visitors, everyone—plays a vital role in protecting YOUR national parks. Whether it’s carrying out what we brought in (including our pooch’s...well...you know), leaving the spots we visit as we found them, or staying on the trail, we’re careful to respect these incredible places.
10. Ruffing it?
This one’s for the dogs. Many parks allow pets on leashes and in campgrounds, some even have kennels. But sometimes these furry friends are best left at home. Discover what you can (and can’t) do with your pet and follow the B.A.R.K. principles.
While it seems laughable that the National Park Service is constantly reminding tourists to not pet the fluffy cows, with as often as it happens annually, apparently, they just can't mention it enough.